A couple of years ago, when Johnny Manziel was wrecking shop as a collegian in the SEC under the "Johnny Football" moniker, he would get into mischief off the field, the evidence would pop on social media and we'd all have a good laugh. We would tell ourselves (and Johnny would tell all of us) that he was just a 20-year-old kid having a good time. From there, he would go back to racking up about 500 yards of total offense the next Saturday and we'd all wait for the next drunken Instagram post. Those were fun days!
And so it went, and it all seemed pretty harmless. And then Johnny Manziel graduated to the NFL, where his peers are adults and his kid games don't play, yet he still played them. At first, they were relatively harmless — champagne benders on inflatable swans, tweeting out videos of him speaking drunkenly into a "money phone." Public partying, basically.
As it turns out, all of that was a gateway into an abyss for Manziel where football is now an afterthought. The Browns are going to cut him on March 9, but if the information captured in an affidavit last week outlining an incident with his now ex-girlfriend, Colleen Crowley, is true, Manziel will have a lot more than his football future to worry about.
According to the affidavit, it all started on January 29, when Crowley went out to dinner with three people. From there, they began to bar-hop, going to a place called Sidebar for about 20 minutes, then to Clutch Bar, which is where Crowley parked her car. After spending another 20 minutes at Clutch Bar, they took an Uber to a club called Travis. While at Travis, the group texted some friends, including Manziel, about an after party at Hotel ZaZa.
“We planned to spend the night together in his room there,” Crowley said.
At around 1:45 a.m., the group drove over to Hotel ZaZa to hang out in Manziel's room. Crowley's three friends left, and she stayed there with Manziel. Once they were alone, the two began talking “about things I had heard earlier in the week about him being with a girl who had caused us problems in the past,” Crowley said, and she indicated to Manziel that, if she stayed at ZaZa with him, she would be sleeping on the couch.
From there, things allegedly got violent, according Crowley's affidavit. She says Manziel threw her on the bed, and when she tried to leave, he “restrained her” from opening the door to his bedroom. She attempted to fight back and “became very scared he was going to hurt me.” From there, here is the crux of the incident, quoted directly from Crowley's affidavit:
"Still being restrained, Respondent led me down the back stairway to the valet, presumably to take me to my car parked now at Concrete Cowboy. Although I did not want him to take me to my car, he would not take "no" for an answer. When we got to the valet, I was crying and begged the valet, "Please don't let him take me. I'm scared for my life " The valet replied, "I don't know what to do" and proceeded to let Respondent literally throw me in the front passenger seat of his car and he went around and got in the driver's seat."
"On McKinney Street, in front of Concrete Cowboy, we both got into my car, against my will, with me in the passenger seat. As Respondent was backing out of the parking spot, I jumped out of the car and ran across the street and hid behind some bushes. He flipped a U-turn and pulled right in to where I was hiding. He grabbed me by my hair and threw me back into the car and got back in himself. He hit me with his open hand on my left ear for jumping out of the car. I realized immediately that I could not hear out of that ear, and I still cannot today, two days later. Fearful for my life, I hit Respondent several times, hoping I could back out of he car. Respondent threw me off of him and I hit my head on the car window and I fell into the passenger floorboard. Still fearful for my life, I stayed in the floorboard motionless until Respondent pulled me back onto the seat. He was telling me to "Stop " and wouldn't let me have my phone."
"We then left Dallas on 1-30 toward my apartment in Fort Worth. During the drive to Fort Worth, I was crying and telling him "I hate you Just leave me alone I hate you " Respondent then told me he was going to drop me off, take my car and go kill himself. I thought maybe he was on drugs or having a psychotic break so to keep him calm I began telling him, "I love you." "We can figure this out, we can talk." Respondent started laughing at this and I became really scared. I started crying even more and he told me "Shut up or I'll kill us both " Then I started begging him not to kill me and he immediately responded, "I would never kill you. You don't deserve that. I would only kill myself " He was not making sense."
After they got back to Crowley's apartment in Fort Worth, the two continued to fight. Crowley characterizes it as "more verbal than physical," although Manziel did reportedly break her phone, and Crowley felt threatened enough to grab a knife from the knife block. Eventually, after getting some of Crowley's neighbors involved, Manziel ran away. These are the events that led up to a Fort Worth police helicopter attempting to find Manziel in the wee hours that morning on information from Crowley that Manziel was suicidal.
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Since then, Manziel's family reportedly has tried twice to get him to re-enter rehab. Manziel spent ten weeks there during the offseason about a year ago. His father, Paul, has said publicly that, if his son doesn't seek help, the 23-year-old won't see his 24th birthday. Meanwhile, Crowley’s request for a restraining order was recently granted, and it requires Manziel to stay away from her for two years. Dallas police have an ongoing investigation into the incident outlined in the affidavit, which can be found in its entirety at the bottom of this post.
The Johnny Football saga has entered into some dark and sad chapters that have virtually nothing to do with football anymore.
Listen to Sean Pendergast on SportsRadio 610 from 2 to 7 p.m. weekdays. Also, follow him on Twitter at http://twitter.com/SeanTPendergast and like him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/SeanTPendergast.